YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The trial for the man accused of killing his stepmother and stealing her car will be postponed and he will be getting a new attorney.
The murder trial for James Jarrell was supposed to start Tuesday, but Jarrell complained to Judge Lou D’Apolito that he wasn’t getting what he wanted from his attorneys. He said he would rather defend himself than stick with the two lawyers who had been appointed to represent him.
“I don’t understand how I can make decisions on my life when at the end of the day, I’m the one facing the possible conviction and the consequences,” Jarrell said.
Jarrell is charged with aggravated murder in the stabbing death of his stepmother, Tina, in July of 2015.
It happened inside the victim’s Wellington Avenue home in Youngstown. Hours later, Pittsburgh police caught Jarrell driving the dead woman’s stolen car.
At the time, Jarrell’s father said his son had a long history of drugs and violence.
In court Tuesday morning, the defendant told Judge Lou D’Apolito that he’s had problems obtaining copies of evidence in the case from his court-appointed lawyers.
“I’ve repeatedly had issues that I don’t feel I should keep addressing and getting no answers, and no response,” Jarrell said.
The judge said there are no guarantees that a new attorney would result in a different ruling.
“Where some lawyer says this is not in your best interest, don’t do it, and now we have this conflict again,” D’Apolito said.
After talking with the lawyers on both sides of the case Tuesday morning, the judge agreed to replace defense attorney Mark Lavelle and appoint another to replace him.
The case is now delayed until his new defense team is ready to go forward. He told Jarrell that he needs to work with his defense team and will not be getting anyone else if it doesn’t work out.
“I’ve noticed throughout this process that there’s been this lack of cooperation on your part,” D’Apolito said. “I’m not going to be hiring any other counsel, that’s it. You either try the case by yourself or with them.”
If Jarrell is ultimately convicted, he faces life in prison without parole.